PITTSBURGH PA – ‘The only health care reform worth doing is the public option. If you give away the public option you have no health care reform. It is a real choice for the American people,’ Governor Howard Dean told over 1,500 bloggers, journalists and activists here at the National Netroots conference.
Commenting on the disinformation, yelling and heckling at recent health care town-hall meetings, Dean said, for the astro-turfers ‘these meetings aren’t about health care. They are about anger.’
‘The Republican party is running on anger and cynicism. They are polling for anger points and mobilizing the far right of the party,’ Dean added. ‘Their anger isn’t logical. And they are appealing to the fringe.’
Additionally, ‘If you look at who’s shouting, they look nothing like the generation that elected President Obama. He is the new generation’s president. He represents the politics of the new generation. A generation that wants change,’ said Dean.
‘A new generation is taking power,’ Dean added. ‘That is the real issue, not health care.’
However, Dean urged the attendees to not discount open conversations with those they disagree with. ‘We should have honest discussions with mainstream Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats,’ he added. ‘They now have a president that they aren’t accustomed to and change is hard.’
According to Dean, journalists, bloggers and activists shouldn’t get bogged down in the details of the bills now before the House and Senate. However, he added, ‘You should challenge the out-right lies.’
In fact, he said, ‘The people in this room are going to be the most important people in America over the next eight weeks. Seventy-two percent of Americans want a public option. Are you going to stand up for the American people or for the insurance lobby.’
Dean also addressed concerns that some have regarding doctor’s compensation under a public option. ‘The American Medical Association has endorsed the public option,’ Dean said. ‘The health care industry has treated doctors and patients so bad that they want a public option too.’
Dean also compared doctor’s compensation here to those in Great Britain, where they have had a national health care system since World War II. ‘Most doctor’s wages in primary care here are lower than in Great Britain,’ he said. Additionally, ‘Most doctors go into specialty care because of school debt, not because they want to make a ton of money. We have to make it easier for doctors to practice by lowering their debt.’
In an instantaneous, minute-by-minute, news cycle, Dean urged participants to ‘frame the debate.’
According to him, the health care public option talking points are simple. ‘First, who gets to choose, the people or the health care companies. Second, the people have made their voice very clear. They want a public option.’
Responding to health care single-payer supporters, Dean said, ‘If we get a public option the health care industry, the insurance companies will have to reform themselves to compete. The public option will lead the way to cost control and better service. The health care industry isn’t into health care. They are into making money. ‘
Additionally, he added, ‘No one will be forced into a public option. If you get in and decide it isn’t for you, you can get out. But the public option will force health care companies to become more consumer friendly.’
Commenting on President Obama’s strategy of bipartisanship in the health care debate, Dean said, ‘Obama is letting the Republicans speak for themselves. He is allowing the American people to see the Republican party for what they are, to show their true colors.’
Dean urged participants to not get discouraged. He said, ‘We’re winning. Things have changed a lot. The anti-public option people are desperate. that’s why they are making things up and appealing to the fringe. We’re in good shape. We’re going to win this fight. We’re going to have a public option.’